Can I use 24 gauge speaker cable?


I’ve been trying to google this but I only get vague answers.
I want to know if I can use 24 gauge cable as speaker cable. And if not: why not?
Usual answers are “no, you should use xx gauge”, but I’m looking for why is that? Will the speakers of the amp go off in flames if the resistance is too high? I don’t even get that because the resistance isn’t even that much of a difference between speaker cable sizes, compared to the speakers resistance.

I’m talking about ca 16ft / 5m distance between amp and speaker. By the way should that measure 16 ft or double (32ft because one cable is plus and the other minus)?
sjeesjie
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Since it's AC the impedance would be measured 32 ft. 24AWG would have enough resistance or impedance since it's AC that you could notice a difference especially in the higher frequencies. If you have a bunch of 24AWG just twist the ends together and run one wire for each post.
@sjeesjie - Cables are a science and there are many factors that come into play and gauge is just one of them.

e.g. are you talking about stranded wire or solid core wire?
- that alone makes a considerable difference in the capability of a piece of wire.

Then there are things like the grade of copper (or even silver), the insulation used on each wire, the, the geometry of the cable itself. These are some of the things some people consider when selecting a speaker cable

Another thing to consider is - will 24 gauge wires be able to handle the transient peaks of the music?
- e.g. some bass lines required a large amount of power to be reproduced effectively and 24 gauge wire will not be able to "accommodate" such large powerful spikes.
- a larger gauge wire would be better in this case

Do all of these things make a real difference? Because some people on this forum are not convinced cables make a real difference.

Personally - I have tried many different gauges from 16 gauge up to 10 gauge and a few different gauges in between - I have tried different geometries, metals and insulations and the combination I now use offer extremely good sound quality

What does all this cable science really achieve...
- improved details - e.g. vocal layers that may be present
- improved clarity - subtle details like venue acoustics (echoes and reverberations)
- faster dynamics - e.g. crisper drum strikes
- improved image (depth, width and even the perception of height)
- improved bass depth and bass textures

In short- a more realistic reproduction

Also, you will be able to listen longer with less fatigue and at louder volumes.

But all of this comes at a cost ($) and that’s something only YOU can decide as to whether it is worth pursing.

So he simple answer to your question...
- YES - 24 gauge wire, stranded or solid will achieve the goal of getting sound from your speakers
- but that sound will lack in the details that were actually recorded
- it’s not a solution I would choose or recommend to anyone.

Regards - Steve
Yes, if you place your amp 12 inches from the speakers! Seriously, go to Home Depot and buy some 14 gauge zip cord - much better for the typical 10 to 20 feet run!
-1 williewonka! "Cables are a science" - LOL! And there's a chapter on them in the Flat Earth Science textbook!
"but that sound will lack in the details that were actually recorded" - an unproven opinion! 
@roberjerman so you would actually use 24 gauge wire?

The reason I ask is, 24 gauge is used for telephone connections. It’s a really thin cable that moves nicely out of sight. It’s cheap and available everywhere. It has a solid core that’s supposed to be better. 
Right. I would get it. Who needs a system that sounds better than a telephone anyway?
No! It is too thin (high resistance) for typical runs of 10 to 20 feet. Nothing wrong with 14 gauge zip cord - contrary to what the "golden ears" guys will say! Don't fall for all the blarney about speaker wire - or interconnects!
It’s not the amp, it’s the cable limitation.

There are two ratings for cables, ANY cables, including the AC in your wall. The breakdown insulation voltage, and maximum current in normal ambient temperature.

It is unlikely you will reach the insulation V resistance, but three things can happen if you exceed the cable’s amperage rating. As the current goes up, the conductor heats up, possibly explosively. Once it heats up the following can occur:

1 - The insulation will melt providing an opportunity for a short, and blowing up your amp.

2 - The conductor will melt, also high probability of a short.

3 - A fire can be started from the short or from the explosive conductor sparks or both.

According to this table, 24 Gauge is rated to a maximum of 0.5 Amps.



https://www.powerstream.com/Wire_Size.htm


Based on this online calculator, that means you can melt it at ..... 2 Watts!!!

https://www.rapidtables.com/calc/electric/watt-volt-amp-calculator.html

Please use a minimum of 16 gauge, class 2 wiring, which is rated for 3.7 Amps, or about 100 Watts.

Of course, thicker gauges reduce the speaker/cable impedance, and therefore improve the damping factor.  This gets worse with long runs, so if you are going more than 10', would strongly recommend at least 14 gauge.

Best,

Erik
Before 1976 nobody worried about wire. Then Noel Lee started Monster Cable and Disc Washer had Gold Ens interconnects. I had both! And over the decades more exotic and expensive stuff! Nowadays I've stopped worrying and just use what's on hand!
10 gauge Monster Cable is still a good choice! Sure, it's still thick zip cord - but so what! If you're feeling really neurotic get some low-cost AudioQuest or Kimber! 
Thank @erik_squires now that’s a constructive answer.
I’m playing around with the calculator but I don’t really understand it. If I fill in 0,577 Ampere as listed in the table, and 0,082 as the resistance (10 x (8,282/1000)) years get something completely different different out of the voltage... namely 0,0003
Thank @erik_squires now that’s a constructive answer.


Welcome



I’m playing around with the calculator but I don’t really understand it. If I fill in 0,577 Ampere as listed in the table, and 0,082 as the resistance (10 x (8,282/1000)) years get something completely different different out of the voltage... namely 0,0003


yes, that’s how the math works. Learn DC circuit analysis to learn more, but for your purposes, put in the speaker Ohms and the Amps, and it will calculate V and W.  Clear the other two fields if needed.
1. Resistance: About 0.5 ohm in series with the speaker for 10’ cable. It will affect the sound with changing speaker impedance, but you might like it.

2. Damping: For membrane damping 0.5 ohm doesn’t make much difference since there is already at least 6 ohm of speaker own resistance in series. It might affect sound slightly, but again - you might like it, especially with overdamped speakers.

3. Temperature: It will make difference (overheating) only if you listen to continuous sinewaves at 100W for long time. Otherwise it is non-issue since music power delivered to speaker is only few percent of peak power (half of loudness is 1/10 of the power, plus music has gaps).

4. Inductive reactance: 0.1 ohm more than very thick cable at 20kHz, but at this frequency (that I cannot hear anyway), most of speakers have inductive character - meaning impedance is way higher and additional 0.1 ohm makes little difference (and if it does you might like it)

5. Skin effect: In copper it starts at gauge 18 at 20kHz so for 24 gauge it is non-issue.

You ears are the best judge. Even if this speaker wire affects the sound it might be to you liking.
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24 LOL hard to strip without going to a 28, in MS.. That is tiny...
I used it to mark multiple hydraulic lines, before disassembly.
Analog phone cable...Right.  Lot of that stuff is still buried...

100 plus wires in a cable... All different multi color. great for marking stuff.

Is it good for speaker wire though?  I think it would be pretty good... 10-20 pieces...Do some type of weave. I don't know.. Usually good copper, poly/vinyl/teflon jacket.

Regards
OP wants to use wire barely adequate for a doorbell, and of all the replies thanks the most clueless of them all: Fire! Explosions! The entertainment value here is off the charts.
Apparently; some people feel a need to spew, constantly. Perhaps they have no relevance, aside from the Internet/keyboard and somehow believe that here, their vacuity is more apropos.
The old, "I’m rubber and you’re glue" comeback, when you are the one who does it and resents it when it’s pointed out. How long did you think you’re were immune to being pointed out?

All the best,
Nonoise

Look folks, when I started this post I knew I’d get all these weird reactions, like why would you want to use telephone wire?

I just want to know the what and how of these things allright? My gut feeling tells me I’d better use some thicker cable. But I wanted to know why that would be a good idea. Don’t need to laugh about it. And if you’re so dumb as to think my 10.000 dollar system would sound like a telephone because I want to use thin wire then that’s your problem.

I even think I’m the last one to laugh, as there are seriously people who believe their system will sound like a Grand Opera House because they spent literally tens of thousands of dollars on a couple of feet of cable, putting them on tiny wooden elevations costing just as much...
This is not a binary proposition: that one either uses telephone wire or spend tens of thousands of dollars to achieve great sound. To look at it that way will ensure that you’ll never find out.

Yes, there are those out there who believe money will solve all their problems, with audio being the least of them. There’s a huge middle ground, a grey area, where you’ll find happiness as long as you ignore the trolling naysayers who’s mission in life is to conflate extreme cost on one hand, and garden variety hookup wire on the other, as the only two viable options you have.

Entertain them at your peril.

All the best,
Nonoise
I even think I’m the last one to laugh, as there are seriously people who believe their system will sound like a Grand Opera House because they spent literally tens of thousands of dollars on a couple of feet of cable, putting them on tiny wooden elevations costing just as much...
@sjeesjie, I feel your pain. I wanted to ask why anybody would spend $6,000 on an FM Tuner nowadays (current highlighted listing on the Audiogon webpage)....but I knew I would get berated. Can you think of a reason to spend $6,000 on an FM Tuner made in 1974? Are there radio signals floating around worth that much?
@OP,
I can understand you point of view. In fact, I shared it, too, until recently.
That is until I demoed some new AQ cables. The fact that they replaced some earlier AQ cables, yet still outperformed, speaks volumes to what a cable can do.-Though they are a lot stiffer/larger than what you are considering.
I would PM other Audiogon members,
Audioconnection
Audiokinesis
Eric_squires
And, no, I don't think throwing money on cables is going to make a system sound like the 'Grand Opera House', but they do make a difference.
PM me, I might be able to help you decide for yourself.
Bob
@sjeesjie,

You can use 24AWG speaker wire but I would advise against it. Dynamic speakers, in general, have their lowest impedance at low frequencies and small gauge wire will result in reduced bass. The solution is to use larger gauge wire. 14AWG speaker wire should be more than adequate for most applications.

The issue of generic vs "boutique" is a separate issue and not relevant for this discussion.
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People buy a tuner like that for the craftsmanship, the cache, and appreciation in it's art. Not to mention it's great at pulling stations at great distances. 

Why not ask why anyone would buy an old, vintage watch at a 6 figure price when a Timex quartz can do the same thing. Or, pay 7 figures for a rare Ferrari when you can just get a Honda.

The common thread between all reveals that someone born of late with no appreciation for the past, and what it can teach us. That being not all things are appliances, nor should they be looked at it that way.

All the best,
Nonoise
Dynamic speakers, in general, have their lowest impedance at low frequencies and small gauge wire will result in reduced bass.
Not necessarily. Many speakers have impedance dip around 100Hz - bass reflex hump. Taming it might be a good thing. I took randomly one of Stereophile measurements - Wilson Sasha, that shows impedance dip to around 2 ohms at 100Hz (at the volume hump) and impedance increase to about 9 ohm at 45Hz where you want it louder (lowest bass string, open E=41Hz).  Small wire resistance in series helps to normalize it.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/wilson-audio-specialties-sasha-daw-loudspeaker-measurements
@gndrbob I know cables can make a difference, that’s why I started this investigation in the first place:-) I was a non believer first until I heard it for myself. What I’m still sceptical about is what causes the difference.

I’m pretty sure most of it has to do with the impedance i.e. the length of the cable, the metal that’s used and the thickness. Then there’s biwiring that I’m pretty interested in also, as you can play with highs and lows, getting some control over that.


sjeesjie, AFAIK biwiring can have effect on the sound by eliminating skin effect (I don’t believe it’s audible) and by reducing back EMF injection into other xover section by separating them by impedance of the driver+wire / impedance of the amp output divider. Xover suppresses it but is not perfect. It works with some speakers and has no effect with the others. I believe it is related to xover design.

kijanki
3,946 posts
10-17-2020 3:47pm
Dynamic speakers, in general, have their lowest impedance at low frequencies and small gauge wire will result in reduced bass.
"Not necessarily. Many speakers have impedance dip around 100Hz - bass reflex hump. Taming it might be a good thing. I took randomly one of Stereophile measurements - Wilson Sasha, that shows impedance dip to around 2 ohms at 100Hz (at the volume hump) and impedance increase to about 9 ohm at 45Hz where you want it louder (lowest bass string, open E=41Hz). Small wire resistance in series helps to normalize it."

I consider 100Hz to be low-frequency because its handled by the woofer. Also, I would NEVER consider adding resistance in series to normalize things. Using that logic, adding a 1Kohm in series will normalize things even better. 
I put some thought into it a couple years back and my opinion hasn't changed. I have some older Infinity Ren 90 speakers that dip fairly low in the impedance curve.
Excerpt from my old post:
I may try the Dueland 12 gage. I just feel the 16 gage can't handle the power requirements. I relate it to trying to run a skill saw using a lamp extension cord. It'll go round and round, but if you want to cut some serious wood, you'll want a good #10 extension cord.
100Hz is too strong, in most cases, and small resistance in series helps to reduce it, since there is also impedance dip at this frequency. Nobody talks about kiloohms - that’s not a valid argument.

All I’m saying thin speaker wire might change sound to somebody’s liking. My power amp Benchmark AHB2 is perhaps the quietest and most accurate amplifier on the planet, but not everybody likes it.
No , next question ,if you did It would have enough voltage 
to run the topend and maybe mids, at best the midBass,low bass takes power to drive and a awg 24 cannot carry that much voltage, the woofers properly ,if you want your woofers to sound like a pop corn machine with a kick drum or Tom  Toms.a preamplifier probably so,
that is why it is called a preamplifier , 

kijanki
3,948 posts
10-17-2020 4:22pm
"100Hz is too strong, in most cases, and small resistance in series helps to reduce it, since there is also impedance dip at this frequency. Nobody talks about kiloohms - that’s not a valid argument.

All I’m saying thin speaker wire might change sound to somebody’s liking. My power amp Benchmark AHB2 is perhaps the quietest and most accurate amplifier on the planet, but not everybody likes it."

I used Kohms to show the fallacy of your argument. Name me one speaker manufacturer that suggests adding resistance in series with the amp-speaker connection?
You could've used megaohms or gigaohms as well. We’re talking about small fraction of an ohm difference, that speaker manufacturers don’t even consider worth mentioning. Atmasphere MA-1 power amp has 2.3 ohm output impedance and great reviews. Do you really think that 0.4ohm would make a difference? Most of tube amps have fraction of an ohm output impedance (in comparison to almost zero for SS). Do they sound bad?

I used Kohms to show the fallacy of your argument. Name me one speaker manufacturer that suggests adding resistance in series with the amp-speaker connection?

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>..

Wilson... Transparent Cables.

Regards
Please answer my question - do tube amps sound bad?  They have additional fraction of an ohm output impedance in comparison to SS.  Why can't you understand that amplifiers with few ohms of output impedance can sound fine.  At this point I'm out.
@oldhvymec,

I believe the series component in Transparent network cables is an air-core inductor, NOT a resistor. Thus, minimal effect at low frequencies where the woofer comes into play.

kijanki
3,951 posts
10-17-2020 5:17pm
"Please answer my question - do tube amps sound bad? They have additional fraction of an ohm output impedance in comparison to SS. Why can't you understand that amplifiers with few ohms of output impedance can sound fine. At this point I'm out."

The answer to your question is NO. In fact, tube amps have a mid-range magic that few SS amps can duplicate. The relatively high output impedance, however, does affect low-frequency performance. In that department SS, with its very low output impedance, is superior. 
24 Guage will have no stage,no bass,no detail but it is cheap.
   Lots of electrical "expertise" here. The OP simply asks the question if using 24 gauge speaker cable is acceptable? Maybe he has 24 gauge already on hand? Maybe not. Without going down the road of opening a flood of responses about who has the best speaker cables out there, a simpler approach is to compare the price of 24 gauge wire to a heavier one. Speaking in terms of cost...not much difference. I believe the comparison between brands or models is not needed here.

Wow:

I've been using the same 26 gauge solid core copper speaker wire (with various SS/tube based setups) for the past 18 years and have not experienced any of the "downsides" posted by others in this thread.

The speaker wire lengths have been in the range of 10-12 feet in length.

Not a fan of the "stranded" wire I've tried in the past, but have zero experience with the new wave of them.

DeKay
@sjeesjie the answer you're really looking for is the following:

There is an audible difference in wire.  Gauge/Quality/Connectors all play a factor.  

You can VASTLY improve audio quality by spending a $100 or so on HIGH quality cables of the required length/connector.  

I did this a year ago.  Upgrading from some 12ga "monster cable" stranded wire, to some 8ga stranded with bonded banana plugs, and was absolutely floored with the before/after.

All of the above get's magnified as you increase other components in your system.  Do yourself a favor, spend a few bucks now.  It's worth it.
If Paul W. Klipsch stated in his time, lampcord would be quite adequate for speakers, great selection at Home Depot, but probably cheaper at Walmart......
Can you use 24 awg? Yes
Do a simple listening test. 14 awg from Amazon or the depot. Then try the 24 awg. See what sounds better.... No Brainer.
It is a little too thin.

Probably not suitable for an amp with more than 10 watts/channel output.
When the wire is too thin, its resistance will be relatively higher and its stray capacitance tends also to be higher. This would limit the current flow and affect the high frequencies negatively by attenuating them.

If you have an amp with any power output greater than about 10 watts/channel, you should probably use approximately a 16 gauge wire. Having said that, you do not have to buy any esoteric expensive "audiofool" wires. Any ordinary pure copper wire (NOT copper clad or aluminum) will do. Just make sure its capacitance is as little as it can be.

All in all, you should not need to spend more than 30-40 bucks on it, AT MOST.

This would do PERFECTLY for example:

https://www.amazon.com/KnuKonceptz-Kable-Gauge-Copper-Speaker/dp/B006VP97DE/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&...

or this....

https://www.amazon.com/InstallGear-Gauge-Speaker-Wire-Oxygen-Free/dp/B01MQVETL7/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3A20...


#24 AWG seems to be thin. 5m is long.
Front or rear speakers?
to get the front speakers cable thickness I need your Amp's Damping Factor (DF).
Then I can calculate the thickness (AWG) with the 5m length.